EDDIE JAFRI AND THE GOLOK (Eddie stories part 3)

Three Indonesian Goloks (1)

Two Training Goloks; a wooden one given to me by a student and a polymer one based on the wooden model made by Vulpes Training (2).


The Golok of Indonesia is a large, stout knife, comparable in use to the Parang of Malaysia and the Bolo of the Philippines.

While Google and Youtube will translate golok as “machete,” it’s really a different tool than what we in the west would think of when we use that term.

The modern, Latin style machete we are familiar with in the Americas has a blade of thin stock, most often of a uniform thickness throughout. This is to keep this agricultural tool both inexpensive to purchase and light in weight for long use in the fields, or when clearing a trail of vegetation. The handle is usually straight, with a rectangular cross section with chamfered edges.
Meanwhile, the golok usually has a blade of heavier construction, with a thicker spine that often tapers to the tip. The handle is often of a pistol grip-like shape, curving downward towards the butt. This handle is often round or oval in shape. Shown below are a Collin’s machete with a straight grip and thin spine and a Bidor parang with a thicker spine and pistol grip type handle. The Malaysian parang serves the same purpose as the golok as a jungle knife, (as do many of the bolos in the Philippines).

Notice the difference in spine thickness between the machete and the parang.


Why the difference between designs of Latin machetes and the jungle blades of S.E. Asia?
A large reason is the type of vegetation each is designed to cut. In Central and South America, the purpose of the machete is to cut light vegetation for long periods of time; either working in agriculture, or clearing a trail in a jungle. Thin, green vegetation, (such as grass or vines) does not require a heavy blade to cut effectively. When we move to S.E. Asia though, much of the work is done on much tougher to cut bamboo, (so much so that anthropologists used to refer to many of the indigenous peoples of the region as “bamboo cultures,” due its ubiquitous use among the people there.)

The Collins machete has a blade of 17 & 3/4 inches (45 cm) and weights 14.8 oz (420g), while the blade on the Bidor parang is shorter by 3/4” (1.9cm), but weights more, at just over 1 pound (515g). The weight difference between the two is explained by the blade stock of the machete being much thinner, at one 10th of an inch or around 2.5mm, while the parang is 1/4 inch (6.35mm) at its thickest. On the tropical hardwoods of S.E. Asia, the thicker blades of the region are less likely to get stuck in wood than the thinner blades used in Latin America, which are intended for use on lighter vegetation. All this makes each blade type very well suited for the environment it is needed to work in.


Here is a look at a few techniques of Golok use I learned from Eddie Jafri in the late 1970s and early 80s. First let’s look at the differences between what Eddie would show at a public performance of Silat and what he would teach in class.


Bunga (flowers) vs Bua (fruit):

The video above shows Eddie during a Silat demo in 1980 or 81. The golok material is during the first 30 seconds. (The knife held in his toes is a Rencong, (3) and yes, they really did use it that way, usually kicked into the groin as a distraction when paired with a sword).

Getting back to the golok, notice the reverse grip slashes Eddie is doing with the blade. Yes, he’s moving fast and it looks scary, but this material is meant mainly for public performances.  (By the way, Eddie would usually use a cheap, lightweight kitchen knife for this demo. That's why you see him toss it aside instead of sheath it, before he draws the rencong). This style of performance is called “Bunga” lit. “Flowers” in Indonesian and it is intended for public display, not for fighting. The actual techniques would traditionally be hidden and would be referred to as “Bua” lit. “fruit” ie, the real fighting aspect of the art.

The techniques Eddie taught were based on the idea of drawing the golok in reverse grip to deliver faster cuts and hacks straght out of the sheath. These are often reinforced by holding the spine of the blade along the forearm.


The video above shows an empty hand version of one of Eddie’s golok techniques. He would often show the empty hand version of a knife technique first, wanting us to get the gross motions practiced, before moving on to the actual weapon techniques.

Here are two videos from Indonesian Silat instructors that show some concepts similar to the drawing techniques I learned from Eddie.


I rarely teach the full version of Eddie’s golok technique these days, (karambit seems to be more popular) but I have integrated some of its principles into the weapon retention material I teach to LEOs and CCW civilians.

Note: I am usually reluctant to show this kind of material in public; but I figure none of my LEO or CCW students are likely to carry a foot long golok as their weapon retention tool, so we should be good on this.


Here are a few samples: First, the empty hand version.

An attacker attempts to grab my sidearm on my right hip. I use the hand I draw with to secure the firearm in place, while striking him in the face with an open hand technique to prevent damage to my hand. (5)


If he is too close for a hand strike, I will use an elbow.


Once I have gotten a good hit into his control center, it's time to hit the radial nerve in his forearm and try and loosen his grip on my firearm.


If he's still fighting, I can deliver a hammer fist to his face. This will bring my hand back to my left side where my weapon retention tool is kept.


If I have the chance, I can draw my blade and deliver the same gross motions as the empty hand version of the technique.


At arm's length, I can deliver a punch with the pommel to the face.


Closer in, I can deliver a reinforced elbow strike and cut with the golok to the head.


I can now work on his forearm to make him release my firearm.


A backhand to the head or neck is available if needed. (6)


Train Hard, but Train Smart,
Tuhon Bill McGrath
PS: The title of my next Eddie story is: LONG STICKS & SWEATY PALMS, (how not to do Iron Palm training).


1. Goloks on the Indonesian version of Etsy. The price when converted into US dollars is about $10 each.

2. To puchase the training golok I'm using visit: https://www.vulpestraining.com/

3. Rencong photo. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Dolk_%28rencong%29_met_rechthoekig_gebogen_hoornen_greep_en_houten_schede_TMnr_17-5.jpg

4.  For more Eddie stories read:
Part 1. https://pekiti.com/blogs/news/karambits-magic-swords
Part 2. https://pekiti.com/blogs/news/what-i-did-on-my-summer-vacation-crazy-eddie-stories-part-2

5. See the story on broken hands in street fights in my post, "How to Hit Hard"